Directing Public Interest: Danish Newspaper Science 1900-1903



Abstract The growing historical literature on science in the written media between 1789 and 1914 has mainly focused on magazines, journals and periodicals. By comparison studies of science in daily newspapers of the nineteenth century have received much less attention. This disparity has also characterised the Danish context where science in nineteenth-century periodicals and popular science journals, unlike science in newspapers, has attracted the attention of historians. In this article we aim to do away with this imbalance by exploring science in three Danish newspapers in the period 1900-1903. The article suggests that newspapers served as key mediators between users and producers of science in Copenhagen at that time. We argue that the significance of newspapers owed less to the scattered articles they carried on scientific topics, and more to the newspapers’ important function of directing public interest. By this we mean that newspapers were directing readers’ attention to specific science events such as lectures, excursions and celebrations; to scientific literature through adverts and reviews; to new scientific electrical wonder cures of ailments ranging from baldness to arthritis; and to the latest news about communication technologies such as trams and telephones which increasingly became part of everyday life in Copenhagen.